I eat for all the reasons

During a client’s initial session, I asked what she thought she needed to stop doing. She admitted to late-night eating, and suspected that’s a big reason why she was struggling with being overweight. But she didn’t expect what came next.

There’s something about becoming aware. About making changes. About tuning into our habits. We start to notice other things.

During our second session she said, “Heather, I eat for all the reasons!”

It hadn’t occurred to her before.

But I see it all the time. I used to do it a lot. And here’s what I know for sure: if you can stop overeating, you can lose weight and actually keep it off.

So, here are three common reasons my clients and I have experienced for eating too much:

  1. “Everyone else is doing it.” What?! That excuse didn’t work with our mothers, but we use it freely. From our office breakroom to our living room sofa, if other people are eating it’s easy to eat along. Practice letting other people eat without joining in. It’s okay to feel a bit awkward or “left out” at first. Once you get used to it, it feels normal.
  2. “It’s a healthy snack.” Ever notice that this claim miraculously makes a food okay to eat? Are you hungry? Doesn’t matter. As long as it’s healthy, have at it. But extra food is overeating. Period. Substituting root vegetable chips for potato chips isn’t going to tip the scale in our favor.
  3. “I deserve a treat.” Yes, you do. And you can do it without food. Seriously. Cookies and wine are not required at the end of a long day. Mostly because, like Pringles, you can’t stop at just one. Search for new ways to treat yourself well. Really well. Once you figure it out, cookies and wine are suddenly laughable substitutes for what you really want. 😉
During a client’s initial session, I asked what she needed to stop doing. She admitted to late-night eating. But soon she noticed...
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There you have it, three common reasons for overeating.

Have first-hand experience with any of these? Or maybe the conversation spurs an “ah ha” for another reason you notice? Noticing is the first step. Like my client, once she noticed the first one, then she saw “all the reasons.” And then she could go to work on them.

What’s the reason you overeat?

It tastes so good.

It’s my favorite.

It’s a special occasion.

I deserve to treat myself.

I’m bored.

You might relate to any or all of these. Or others.

But none of them are the reason you overeat.

The real reason is that overeating serves a purpose greater than the result you want from not overeating. That is, the satisfaction from overeating is more important than the satisfaction you’ll receive in the future.

And I get it. Putting off today’s enjoyment for results “someday” feels like suffering. Especially if you can’t trust the results will come. And who wants to suffer?

Well…we do!

Photo by Elmer Cañas on Unsplash

Think about it. How much time have you spent over your life, saying no to your immediate desires for a greater end? For a college degree? Your dream job? To start a business? Raise healthy kids?

I remember studying for the CPA exam I was to take in May of 1990. I began studying two days before Christmas in 1989. Because I knew if I didn’t start before Christmas, I’d wait until after New Years. And if I waited until after…you get the idea.

So, I said no to my best friend who asked me to go to the movies on December 23rd.

I buckled down for the better part of five months. I passed the exam.

You’ve done the same thing. Many times.

If you haven’t done it with overeating, why? What’s different?

If you want to find out, spend a week not overeating. (Remember, overeating is simply eating more than your body needs. It can be a snack. A few extra bites. Nighttime eating. Anything that’s more than you need.)

As you experiment, notice all the reasons your brain comes up with for why you should eat, or why you want to eat. Like “it’s been a long day” or “it’s my brother-in-law’s birthday” or “I just want to veg out and not think about it.” Write down all the reasons your brain gives you. Keep a running list.

At the end of that week, go through your list of reasons FOR overeating. Then make a list of all the reasons you want to STOP overeating. Be honest with yourself and decide which list of reasons you like best.

If at the end of the research you decide you want to continue with your habits, that’s the right answer for you.

If you decide you want to stop overeating, that’s the right answer for you.

No judgement.

If you want to stop overeating, do you need support? If that week-long experiment wasn’t too bad, you may be fine on your own. And every time you make the conscious choice to not overeat, congratulate yourself. Those short-term wins are helpful.

But if that week was a nightmare, or anywhere close, let’s talk. I’d love to help you stop overeating and achieve your weight loss goals!


3 tips to avoid overeating and other “regrets” this holiday

How often do things go according to plan? How about when you add in family, the holidays and, of course, food? I’ll bet not often, and that’s totally normal. The problem is when we don’t prepare for it and then pretend like things just “happen” to us. Like extra dessert falling into our mouth or mean words falling out of it. The thing is, if we want to avoid overeating and other “regrets,” we need to plan well.

I’ve been there. Eaten too much of a good thing and felt stuffed. Said something that the next morning I wished I could take back. What I came to realize is that those “hangovers” can be prevented. I don’t control other people, but I do control me.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Want even more simple strategies to get and stay healthy, especially during the holidays? Get my 10 Hacks here!

Try these three tips to prepare for the unexpected this holiday season so you stay in integrity with who you want to be:

1. What you eat is your own business: I regularly work with clients who have a hard time saying no to food. They don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, or they feel pressured. So, they end up eating more than intended, or something that hurts their health and weight loss efforts.

Ingrain the truth that your food is your business. (And other people’s food is their business.) Come up with a phrase to use when offered something you don’t want so that you can avoid overeating. A simple “no thank you” is often best. Resist the temptation to explain yourself as it opens you up to the other person trying to talk you out of it.

2. Other people can do/say what they want: This was a huge revelation for a client of mine. She told me what a relief it was to understand and accept this. If you’re going to an event where experience tells you that a difficult person will be there (family member, co-worker, boss, etc.), choose to go knowing they get to be exactly who they are. They can say and do anything. And you don’t have to react, get hurt or be angry. You also don’t have to hang around them.

3. Set your standards: Decide how much you will do. How many nights a week will you accept invitations this season? How late will you stay out (or conversely, what time do you want to be in bed)? And know that the decisions you’ll make on which invitations to accept or not will generally be between a bunch of things you want to do. Now, if you can do them all without your healthy intentions suffering, awesome. But be honest with yourself. You will sometimes find that saying no to something you want to do is better than doing it.

If we’re honest, these circumstances are rarely unexpected. But we can act like they are, or use a particular situation to justify poor decisions. We can avoid overeating, over-drinking or saying things we later regret …these are all optional. No thing or other person can cause these things. We are solely responsible.

Isn’t that the best news ever?! (By the way, it’s not too late to finish the year strong – read my post here.)

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